Wednesday, July 04, 2007


JH: I agree that prose is now stronger on the page. The written word is artwork that is coincidentally read. Spoken words are speech. One may more easily superimpose speech considerations, such as pauses, upon a written text than literary considerations upon speech. Speech is lost on the wind, whereas lost literature is a conceit within an existing text. Of its getting lost, speech can only say you will not remember. Lost literature illustrates, to no viewer, the loss of a world - the text and its readers. Upon departure, literature takes its loss along with it. Are thoughts more accurately compared to speech or to text? Does literature reach further back into thought than speech does, or does it elaborate and refine thought?

AHB: I don't know if thoughts are more accurately comparable to speech, but it makes me wonder about improvising texts aloud. Instead of keyboard or paper and pencil, what of you tried doing it via speech,in an audience. Sans audience, I imagine, sans witness, it's like there is no speech at all. There would be you, but would that text exist except if you served it to auditors? An audience could be people listening, or a recording. A transcription isn't the same, is it? I've never heard David Antin's work performed tho I've read a bit of his work. I understand that Steve Benson does considerable improvising when he reads publicly. Speech seems to be chemical, reactive, whereas literature functions differently. I'm not sure how to describe the difference. So anyway, I shall addend a poem that you recently posted to Wryting, “Phoebus Wreathed”. I've been casually reading Robert Herrick. I mean really casually, while brushing my teeth or stray moment. In his work, and typical of how poetry was understood generally at that time and place, one sees a sense of formal occasion. These occasions can be eulogistic, delighting, or simply wisecracking epithets. I'm interested in how poesy can adjust to the impetus of these different moods. You often “use” what obviously is an anachronistic language, to great effect. This is poesy in arch glamour, yet that glamour is but an element of the poetic action. It feels like an intersection of occasions. Please speak of this poem.

Would there a wreath that would reprove fires: I hold this clime, Phoebus, as mine, announces its inscription. The worldly will allow, regarding this scene: Nature charms me as much as fable. The wreath announces of the fires: soft weigh my cares on this scale.

At a stroke the figure of Phoebus,
And the figure of Phoebus was with crackling torches.
Had they but dimmed to a maiden light!
They are the interior form of Aetna, certainly!

I have disported with other storms, announces Phoebus, I hate a lair, but I will be caverned in this wreath and walk beneath its boughs.


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